Postmarked February 14, 1998 From Heart Butte, MT
File Photos & Concept: Julia C. Tenney
Technical Support: Daniel P. Bronson
I had planned on The Three of Swords to be my annual
Valentine's Day Greeting for 1997. However, my life conspired against me.
Dan & I began work on this design on Sunday, January 11th, 1997; mostly looking for decent art for the composite.
The next day, my father had emergency cardiac surgery, three operations. This seemed to make my intended "three swords in a heart" Valentine that much more appropriate, albeit potentially insensitive. Ultimately, I was unable to get the card done in time that year.
Back then, part of me felt that I'd missed the perfect opportunity to send out the card. There I was, at the start of the infamous Saturn Return, with a timely and appropriate tragedy, and I missed my chance.
Now, (in 1998) while still in the midst of my Saturn Return, I am glad I waited.
I've had an extra year to meditate on the meaning of the Three of Swords, and its relationship to Saturn. I've experienced more of my Saturn Return, and can illustrate with photos taken during the experience.
The Three of Swords
The Heart depicted is from an oversized exhibit in Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry. I was there in May 1997 and the original photo depicts me standing inside it. (I probably meant to use that as my Valentine this year, and then forgot about it until I started hunting for good heart images). In this reworked image, my face remains, (yeah, ok, like a fatty deposit, sigh).
In traditional Tarot, swords are often the Suit of Air and the images depicted against Cloudy Skies. This particular sky is from Medford, Massachussetts near the end of what I now refer to as "The Roadtrip Through Uhell" in August 1997. Vehicles broke down, crashed or were stolen every step of the drive from Vermont to Georgia and back up to Medford. (Never, ever doubt the power of Mercury Retrograde, especially during your Saturn Return). At some point early on, when I figured it couldn't get worse (wrong), I began taking photos of the sky, with the intent of using them in a later art piece.
Veering away from traditional depictions, I included a Tree when took my camera with me while jogging in the fall foliage in October 1997. I started jogging days after my father's health emergency, when I was dared to get in shape for Utica's annual 15K, The Boilermaker. (An image of me running the race was intended to be sent as my 1997 greeting. I messed that up too).
The tree image was inverted and stylized to signify lungs & circulation, symbolic of my push to get into shape, and of the health problems of people around me.
The Swords here are stylized plastic cocktail swords. We tried using scalpels, or actual swords, and considered plastic kitchen knives. They only muddled the image. If I need to argue the relevance of using cocktail swords, well, one could say a fair chunk of folks probably associate plastic cocktail decor with me. Monkeys, mostly. But I'm definitely the sort of person who'll start fencing when our drinks come with cocktail swords.